Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2008

I just thought I would post a photo of the tomatoes now they have ripened.

Red tomatoes

Red tomatoes

Jamie had heard that if you put the green ones together with the red ones, they ripen. Something to do with some chemical they give off. Another tip is to use ripe bananas which apparently give off the same chemical (I wonder if that is the same one that is supposed to make wasps angry?)

Anyway, whatever it was it seems to have worked – this is about 3 weeks after the first photo (below) and they have literally just sat on the kitchen floor in a bag.

Now we just need to eat them. For me it just isn’t a raw tomatoes time of year, so they are just sitting there making me feel guilty. (Since doing this blog I am realising what a large part ‘guilt’ plays in my life!) I think they will have to be oven-roasted with garlic and oils or something, just to make them more appetising. For next year, Perry and George have given us one of their ‘Black Russian’ tomatoes to save the seed from. Hopefully these will taste better – they swear by them!

Also, Jamie wants me to put on a photo of the bouquet garni he made from the allotment herbs.

Ta da......

Ta da......

Read Full Post »

Today we had a lovely day working on the plot. The weather was quite warm – almost weirdly warm for the time of year. Nearly everyone we know was on the site when we arrived at noon.

The girls seemed happy playing by themselves, so we got lots done. I cleared the last of the squash plants, to replant with strawberries. The kind lady who let us pick her surplus earlier in the summer offered us some of her offshoots. Her strawberries made the best jam I have ever tasted – so I jumped at the chance. We now have three small areas of strawberries. Along with herbs they are one of the best and most useful things we have got from the allotment, so it is worth dedicating the space to them. As instructed I dug in some manure first to make sure we get a good crop.

It is the end of the season for herbs now, so I wanted to pick as many as possible for drying, before they all get killed by frost. I stripped the lemon verbena plant which completely dies back in winter and have hung bunches upside down on the back of a chair to dry. I did the same with the tarragon, and also picked some thyme, rosemary, mint and sage. These can be dried and put into jars for storage and use over the winter.

Lemon verbena - the smell is just amazing

Lemon verbena - the smell is just amazing

Finally, before we left, Doug insisted that we take some of his redcurrants that were still on the plants from summer, but wouldn’t survive the first frosts when they come. One of the highlights of allotmenting as a mum has to be watching the girls’ excitement as they pick fruit. I took them over to pick a small crop and they were so thrilled with the ruby red jewel-like fruit. The only problem with redcurrants is that although they look exquisite, they do taste very sour straight from the plant. Fern did try one raw but her face said it all really. However, good old Sarah Raven has a recipe for blackcurrant cupcakes, which was well suited to using our produce. A bit of sugar definitely helps fruit go down. Not sure if that is particularly healthy, but it was a lot more fun.

It makes a pleasingly pink cake mixture

It makes a pleasingly pink cake mixture

I really must cook something savoury out of our produce one day..........

I really must cook something savoury out of our produce one day..........

Read Full Post »

Storing herbs for winter

I have to admit mixed success with growing and eating vegetables. This is probably down to too-high expectations of fabulous flavours from your own home grown produce. In reality, the vegetables often taste the same as those you buy in the shops – I suppose it’s obvious really!

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Sweetcorn and peas were both well worth trying straight from the plant. Delicious. Carrots were fantastic fun to pull up and eat. An endless supply of fresh tomatoes and salad is well worth the effort. One of my crops of potatoes had a great flavour. And even saying all of this, I have managed to get the girls to try stuff on the allotment that they won’t eat from the fridge. Their usually sweet tooth is tempted by fairly tart strawberries and blackberries that they just wouldn’t eat in our kitchen.

But it has been worth having the allotment for herbs alone. We have endless supplies of thyme, rosemary, french tarragon, mint, bay leaves and sage. We may not have the rich soil to grow exceptionally tasty veg, but the same soil makes perfect growing conditions for most mediterranean plants. During the summer, these herbs can be picked on the day you need them, ensuring complete freshness. However, it seems like a waste to leave all the leaves on the plants, knowing full well that as soon as it gets colder, the leaves will all drop off.

So I have harvested and dried some of them, for use during winter. It is always nice to have an abundance of herbs to put in cooking.

Bless her, Eden was really pleased when the herbs appeared in the jars. “I wondered what they were for” she said.

aha!

aha!

Read Full Post »

One of the perks of the plot is that it has a number of lavender plants, inherited from the community project when they used to hold the plot. We have reached a kind of agreement with the lavender people that they pick the lavender from those plants, but in exchange we can pick lavender from what is left over on other plants near our plot. They also maintain the lavender bit of our plot – mowing etc.

In any case we always have more than enough for our own needs. During the week, Jamie took the lavender that has been drying around the house, and picked it off the stems ready to put into lavender bags. Then I made some lavender bags with Eden and proceeded to stuff them. They do smell a lot stronger than the ones you can buy, and they make a nice additional present for people.

Lavender bags

Lavender bags

Another pleasant surprise was to find that the lemon verbena leaves which I had picked and dried smell amazing. I have visions of lemon and lavender bags this Christmas.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday we popped quickly to the allotment, inspired by the pumpkin display at the farm shop. I decided that it was best to harvest our ones before either frosts or another rainy spell like we have had. It was quite exciting taking the girls to pick the pumpkins after admiring them in situ for ages. I have looked the names up on google, and it turns out that we have got some gourmet Italian varieties, which should be quite tasty and ideal for putting in ravioli parcels and for roasting. We may even have a spaghetti squash (the yellow one in the picture below), but can’t be sure until we open it up.

I struggled to carry them all – they did look a lot larger once I had packed them up ready to take home. I have now put them on the patio to ripen further. Apparently you are supposed to leave them in a sunny but frost free place – the patio seemed ideal.

Pumpkins ripening on the patio

Pumpkins ripening on the patio

The tomato sauce tasted okay – verging on edible as they say. Thankfully, before I came under pressure to eat some, Jamie came home from work in one of his ravenous moods, and ate almost the whole lot. The residue in the fridge just didn’t look very appetising, particularly once he had described it as ‘disgusting’, but I suppose at least it didn’t go to waste.

Read Full Post »

Green tomatoes

Last week we picked about a hundredweight of tomatoes, most of which were green. Fortunately, the blight that was affecting most plots had only just reached ours last week, so Jamie decided to store them to see which ones were affected. Hardly any of them started to go the trademark brown colour, which left us with the dilemma of what to do with them all……

what's left of the tomatoes

what's left of the tomatoes

Jamie started a pasta sauce, with tomatoes, old red wine (vinegar!), garlic and oil. We’ll see later on whether it tastes nice.

tomato sauce in the making

tomato sauce in the making

Out of interest, the dark green squashes are still sitting by the side of the stove, waiting to be used. : D

Still here.....

Still here.....

They have got very hard skin and don’t seem to have deteriorated yet, so hopefully we will still get time to do something cool with them. Even tempted to see if they will keep till Halloween??

Although that is a month’s time.

Read Full Post »